A young woman with curly auburn hair and hazel eyes stood at the doorstep of a dilapidated two-story house. The house was an old one with antique wood shingles that were a hazy blue in color. At one time the young woman would have bet that the blue shingles would have been a navy shade of blue and a forest shade of green but time had rendered them faded and torn.
The young woman was just over six foot in stature and slim, she looked to be no more than twenty. Her curly hair was held back with a multi-colored tie. She stood tall as if that were the only way she knew how to stand (it was a trait that stood her well when dealing with her rude and often volatile siblings). From her stance you could see that she was proud. A worn leather bag hung off of her shoulder. But if you were to look closely at her hazel eyes you could see she was tired. Her life to this point had not been an easy one and she had just taken an easy way out of it. The name of this tired woman with a proud stature was Evelynne Fraust and she was utterly exhausted.
So having grown tired of listening to the arguments of her parents and siblings Evelynne had chosen to take her Great Uncle Brady’s gift to her and walked away from all of it. Uncle Brady had been a large man with a chest the size of a barrel. He had also been considered to be more than a little off balance – or more politely put, left of center.
Uncle Brady had always talked to himself whether people were around or not. He had also told all of his nieces and nephews (of which there were a slew of) of his journeys to the city of Ballindraye. Of course to most people the city of Ballindraye – also known as the City of the Oak – was nothing more than a legend. To put it simply it was more myth than anything else. No one had ever taken the man seriously that Evelynne could recall – and that was something that didn’t seem to bother Uncle Brady in the slightest.
But for some strange reason Uncle Brady had adored Evelynne. Evelynne wasn’t sure if that was because she was always the one that would sit patiently and listen to his stories or if he just saw something special in her. And if he had seen something special, Evelynne sure would like to know what it was because as far as she could see she was just another niece that her parents had dropped on him to babysit every week – sometimes two or three times in the same week, depending on what her parents were (or weren’t) doing.
But right now none of that mattered because Uncle Brady had given Evelynne a way out of all the madness that surrounded her growing up and even up until a couple of weeks ago. That was when Uncle Brady had passed away. He had left everyone something, although Evelynne received his house and its accompanying two acre garden. Although it really couldn’t be called a garden, because as far as Evelynne knew it was run over with weeds and animals. That was a challenge that Evelynne was more than up for.
Honestly if not the house, it was the garden that Evelynne was looking forward to. That was Evelynne’s true passion in life. She loved her gardening. Evelynne actually worked in a nursery here in town, and when the winter months crept in her company transferred her to its local hothouse. The best part about the whole job was that Evelynne had started working there when she was fourteen and had worked her way up to her position. There wasn’t anything that she couldn’t do in either location and that had just fed her determination to have her own garden that would one day be something for all to marvel at.
As thoughts of the garden she wanted to have begun to fill her mind Evelynne had to shake her head so that she could go about doing her own business. Which at the moment was getting into the old house that she had played in as a child and see just what was useable and what she had to do to make her new home livable.
Evelynne remembered coming here as a child and had vague memories of this place as a child. Some of the rooms should be useable but everyone accepted the fact that Uncle Brady had declined in his later years, and Evelynne highly doubted that much of the house was actually up to code. With a deep breath Evelynne took the heavy iron key (Uncle Brady had been a stickler for the older fashions) from her bag and inserted it into the lock on what was now her house. Next she carefully pushed open the old-fashioned heavy wooden door on its rusty hinges and let fresh sunlight into the house. Once Evelynne’s eyes adjusted to the low light that was in the entrance hall she gave an audible gasp. The sight that met her eyes was beyond incredible. If the rest of the house was like this, than Evelynne was really going to have the last laugh at all the relatives who laughed at Uncle Brady.
Because the interior of this house was not what it was on the outside. The outside may have been dark, dingy and dilapidated but the inside was certainly not. In this hallway alone there was fresh wallpaper and a sedan for her or any guests she might have to sit. There were shiny silver hooks on the walls for coats and an honest to god candle holder with a fresh white candle firmly inside of it! Sure it looked to be a few centuries outdated but it all looked to have been built fresh this morning!
Well this certainly bared further investigating. And after Evelynne hung up her light jacket, closed and locked the door behind her, used what dim light there was to light a match she found to light the white candle with, which is what she did.
Evelynne walked into room after room and found that each room was fully furnished and decorated in the same manner as the entrance hall. There were chairs, sedans, and ottomans. All in heavy fabrics and so overstuffed that Evelynne thought if she were to sit in them that she might fall through them. There were low tables in various places that were the same dark wood that the frames of the house were made in. When Evelynne came into the dining room she again had a great shock. There was a long table and ornately carved chairs that could seat twenty! Even more surprising was the fact that there was a cream colored porcelain vase filled with fresh flowers that Evelynne had never seen before!
The flowers took her immediate attention. Evelynne could easily see the tiny wisps of baby breath that were in the clear vase. She could also see several types of lilies and roses in the vase but she couldn’t recognize were several other flowers that were in the vase, some were pink and others were green. But there was one in the vase a color she had never seen. It was black and had pointy peals with streaks of bright green that originated in the hip of the flower itself! That particular flower was mind-blowing to Evelynne.
Evelynne carefully walked over to the table and leaned towards the vase to look at the flower closer. She was wary of touching it because she didn’t know whether any part of it was poisonous (and she knew poisonous plants – she was the unofficial expert at both locations where she worked). As Evelynne studied the obviously exotic flower she noticed that the vivid green in the flower was the exact shade of Uncle Brady’s eyes. That was surely odd.
Actually this entire house was odd. Evelynne had been here many times in her youth and it had never looked like this. Never once had it been as tidy, clean and well maintained as it currently was. Nor had there ever been a usable garden (Evelynne had dreamed of one here when she had been little). So where all this came from she most certainly didn’t know.
Carefully Evelynne bent towards the flower and sniffed it. It had a very earthy smell. It almost smelled like fresh rain and cut grass. And if that wasn’t a most different smell for a flower to give off than Evelynne didn’t know what was. But as she took the scent in she decided to sit in one of the ornately carved dining chairs. Once her butt touched the chair a bright golden light flashed in the room.
Shocked at the burst of light Evelynne began to look around the room and what she saw nearly frightened her to a heart attack (not a good thing considering heart problems ran in her family). As it was, her hazel eyes were the size of saucers as she stared at the form of a person that she was told had died. In fact she had been at his funeral so she knew he was dead. And yet contrary to all Evelynne knew her Great Uncle Brady was standing tall and barrel-chested before her!
“Hello Evelynne,” he said in his deep voice before continuing, “As I am sure you are aware by now I have passed on to the Other World. It is there that I will continue my life. It is there I will meet again with the only woman that I loved, but that is for another story. Right now I am sure that all you want to know is what is going on. Am I correct?
“Of course I am. Why do I even bother asking these things? No matter. Let me tell you a story of this house and the land it sits on. I promise you now it will be as true as the ones that I told you when you were little, and yes all those stories were and are true. And no I am not crazy and neither are you. Yes I know what everyone else has always said about me, and yes you as well. It is time you knew why you are so very different from those around you.
“You see Evelynne, this story starts many years before even I was born. Centuries before in fact. Back in the old country around six centuries ago one of our ancestors by the name of Henry upset a woman of great means by rejecting her advances. Why he did this no one is certain. At any rate this woman was so upset that she prayed to the Gods that he would suffer the pain that she had. The Lady’s intent was that he and his would suffer as much as she did. Things didn’t quite work out that way as you will see.
“In response to the woman’s prayer the Old Ones gave the man a great gift. It was the gift of travel. Not the type of travelling that an everyday person would do mind you. It is the type of travelling that you yourself will do soon enough. You see the woman had begun to bring injury upon Henry and his almost immediately. And that, dear child, is something that the Old Ones simply do not condone. So they offered him an escape. It proved to be a double edged gift.
“The showed him the way to the legendary Ballindraye. Yes a place that even then was considered a legend was being shown to him. Now Henry, like most rational men, thought this was odd to say the least. Actually his journal stated that he found it so hard to believe that he almost had himself committed to one of the original versions of a sanatorium. That would not have been pretty for him, let me tell you. At any rate Henry eventually had no reason not to believe what he had been given and he went there regularly. You’ll find out what I mean in time Evelynne. So until our paths cross again, I bid you farewell dear child, and stay safe. Oh and enjoy the flowers.”
With those words the golden light flashed once again and Evelynne found herself alone in the room once more. Evelynne’s eyes had been the size of saucers when the light at first flashed, now her jaw was extended as far as it would go. This was an impossible situation to be in. Just how was she supposed to believe everything she had just been told? Heck even she didn’t believe half of it! And just what did he mean by enjoy the flowers, which was one thing that Evelynne was bound and determined to find out. After all flowers were her business and passion and if there were more to enjoy than Evelynne was bound and determined to find them.
As for the house providing for her and reflecting her, Evelynne wasn’t quite sure what that meant. If there was one thing than it was that this house was not exactly Evelynne’s taste. It was no doubt beautifully decorated but it had none of the modern conveniences that Evelynne was accustomed to. It appeared there was no electricity and yet Evelynne could see everything around her. How that worked she wasn’t quite sure. But thinking about all this was beginning to give her a headache and Evelynne decided that she needed to rest. So without another thought Evelynne went up the grand staircase (that was carpeted with what look like a hand stitched and patterned runner) to where she knew the bedrooms were.
Slowly Evelynne walked down the main hallway to wear her old room was. When she opened the door (which was done in the same dark, hard wood as the rest of the doors and frames in the house) she was in for one more surprise. For on the bed (which had four tall posts in the dark green canopy) was the same old quilt that had always been there. True it looked its age but Evelynne would know that quilt anywhere, and for some reason it fit in with the rest of the decor in the room which had been done in the same dated fashion as the rest of the house.
Another oddity about all of this was that Evelynne was the only one of Uncle Brady’s nieces or nephews that had a quilt. Anytime that Evelynne had asked where it came from all Uncle Brady would tell her is that it came from her dreams. Evelynne had laughed at that but seeing that quilt here and now she started to question whether her Uncle had been right after all.
For Evelynne this was the last straw. She couldn’t think anymore. Without even bothering to remove her shoes Evelynne walked over to the bed and fell into it letting her feet hang off the edges. The minute she hit the soft bed Evelynne was sleeping deeper than she had in a long time.